In common with many advanced welfare states, England has increasingly relied on consumerist principles to deliver both greater quality and improved efficiency in the long-term care system. The Individual Budget (IB) pilots marked the next step in this process, through a new system of funding whereby greater control of resources is given to service users, in lieu of direct in-kind care provision.
IBs have the potential to transform the market for care services as well as the relationships between key stakeholders within it. Purchasing will increasingly be shaped by the demands of IB holders, with providers expected to deliver a wider range of personalized services. What will this mean for providers, and what can they do to prepare for these changes? These questions are relevant not just in England but in many other countries adopting similar mechanisms for devolving control over the design, delivery and funding of care to the end-user. The article explores the early impact of IBs on providers’ services, on their workforces, and on the administrative implications for providers of managing IBs. The study finds that providers were positive about the opportunities for better-quality services that IBs can bring about. However, participants highlighted a number of obstacles to their effectiveness, and reported a range of potentially adverse administrative and workforce consequences which have the potential to jeopardize the consumerist policy objectives of increased choice and efficiency.
Wilberforce M, Glendinning C, Challis D, Fernandez JL, Jacobs S, Jones K, Knapp M, Manthorpe J, Moran N, Netten A, Stevens M (2011) Implementing consumer choice in long-term care: the impact of individual budgets on social care providers in England, Social Policy & Administration, 45, 5, 593–612.